How to create connection opportunities at work

Remote workers want more opportunities to connect with their colleagues, so what can employers do about it?

Written by Editor Medibank

By now, the perks of working from home are well documented. Trackpants instead of trousers, ugg boots in place of heels. Longer sleep-ins, happier pets, slow-cooked weeknight dinners. You get the idea; you’ve lived it.

But remote working isn’t just one rose-coloured Zoom background. We’ve traded in our chilly office buildings, sure, but we’ve ended up with workspaces that sometimes double as school desks or dining tables. We let go of our Monday morning commutes, but we lost our Friday knockoffs in the process.

Love it or hate it, the modern office gives us something we can’t easily recreate at home. Take for example that Australian employees have ranked ‘opportunities to socialise’ as the worst aspect of remote work, according to a 2020 study by the New South Wales Innovation and Productivity Council.

For employers, this is an important sentiment to measure, especially since employees who are dissatisfied with their social connectivity are less likely to maintain or improve productivity on collaborative tasks, research by BCG Consulting has shown.

Employee dissatisfaction with socialisation therefore creates an opportunity for employers to facilitate social connection at work, or to empower their employees to do so themselves.

What does a connected workplace look like?

Carman’s Kitchen is one employer who’s already cooked up a successful recipe for workplace connection, so much so that Carman’s won the 2021 award for ‘Most Outstanding Practice – Employee Wellbeing’ at the Australian Financial Review BOSS Best Places To Work awards.

“Staying healthy and connected allows us to ensure we can bring our best selves to work every day,” Carman’s told the AFR. “We achieve this through many different initiatives, from onsite yoga and gym classes through to providing healthy lunches and flexible work arrangements.”

It’s social connection opportunities like these—plus an emphasis on onboarding, communication, and strategic focus—that has helped Carman’s shift the dial on employee engagement from 88% to 96% in four years.

Empower your employees

Not every employer will have the resources to facilitate yoga or gym classes, but connection opportunities are only as limited as your imagination. That’s where your employees can help.

At Medibank, a Feel Good Champion Network plans, facilities and promotes connection opportunities like cooking demonstrations, dance-offs and art classes for the rest of the business to participate in. Participation takes place either virtually, in-person, or both. The network is backed by the organisation but driven by employees from diverse business areas who are passionate about creating connection opportunities for their colleagues.

If your employees want a more social workplace, empower them to be involved in creating it.

Connection opportunities for a hybrid workforce

A recent report by Medibank on workplace connection suggests additional ways for employers to foster socialisation for a hybrid workforce.

These ideas for connection opportunities include:

  • virtual learning and development
  • online team building activities
  • webinars with industry experts
  • team meet‐ups over video conference for lunch
  • short online game sessions
  • appreciation, recognition and acknowledgement sessions
  • online counselling
  • recognition and acknowledgment sessions
  • online meditation
  • social interactions in a virtual office or virtual lunch room.

No time to waste

The coronavirus pandemic has starved remote workers of connection opportunities for more than a year. If you’re thinking about dedicating more time to creating socialisation and engagement opportunities for your employees, we can help. Medibank offers a range of services for corporate customers, such as onsite messages, smoothie stands and virtual dance classes.

Email your account manager if you have one or get in touch at corporate@medibank.com.au

Written by Editor Medibank

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